Jupiter has 12 more moons than we knew about — and one is bizarre | Science News

Real Science. Real News.

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News

Jupiter has 12 more moons than we knew about — and one is bizarre

An oddball satellite, called Valetudo, may collide with its neighbors within a billion years

By
10:00am, July 17, 2018
Jupiter moons

NEW MOON, I SAW YOU ORBIT ALONE  Of 12 recently discovered Jovian moons (illustrated in bold orange, blue and green), one orbits in the opposite direction of its neighbors (arrows show orbit direction). Four moons discovered by Galileo are also shown (purple).

Astronomers have found 12 more moons around Jupiter, and one is really weird. While 11 orbit in the same direction as their nearest neighbors, one doesn’t, potentially putting it on a fatal collision course.

“It’s driving down the highway on the wrong side of the road,” says planetary scientist Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

Sheppard and colleagues found the moons while looking for something else entirely: a putative planet that could exist beyond the orbit of Neptune, known colloquially as Planet Nine (SN: 7/23/16, p. 7). During a survey in 2017 of the most distant objects in the solar system using the Victor Blanco 4-meter telescope in Chile, Jupiter happened to be visible in the same area of sky that the team was searching during one of its observing runs. “Might as well kill two birds with one stone,”

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content